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JACKSON v. GONZALES

December 12, 2005.

KEVIN L. JACKSON, Plaintiff,
v.
ALBERTO GONZALES,[fn1] Attorney General of the United States, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: REGGIE WALTON, District Judge

*fn1 Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 25(d)(1), the Court has substituted the current Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, for Attorney General John Ashcroft who was in office when this action was filed.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

The plaintiff, Kevin Jackson, brought this action alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (2000). Specifically, the plaintiff claims that his non-selection for a promotion was the result of both racial discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII. Complaint ("Compl.") ¶¶ 3, 43. Currently before the Court is the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgement ("Def.'s Mot.").*fn2 For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants the defendant's motion. I. Background

  A. Factual Background

  The plaintiff's Title VII claims are predicated on his non-selection for a GS-14 position in August 2001. Compl. ¶¶ 3, 12. To provide the necessary background information, the Court will first briefly review the professional backgrounds of both the plaintiff and Jennifer Batchelder, the individual ultimately selected for the position at issue. Def.'s Mot., Exhibit ("Ex.") 10 at 1. After this discussion, the Court will provide an overview of the process that ultimately led to the 2001 selection of Batchelder that is being challenged by the plaintiff. The following facts are undisputed or, because the plaintiff is the party opposing summary judgment, construed in the light most favorable to him. Stewart v. Ashcroft, 352 F.3d 422, 425 (D.C. Cir. 2003).

  1. The Plaintiff's Professional Background

  The plaintiff, an African American male, worked for approximately fourteen years for the United States Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons ("BOP"). Compl. ¶¶ 4, 6. The plaintiff commenced his employment with the BOP in 1987 as a research data clerk contractor. Def.'s Mot., Ex.1 at 13.*fn3 In 1988, after four or five months at the BOP, the plaintiff resigned to work at a research company. Id. at 14. However, later that same year, the plaintiff returned to the BOP as a grade level GS-6 research data clerk. Id., Ex. 2 at 4.*fn4 The plaintiff's duties at the research company and in both BOP research positions involved similar types of administrative and clerical duties. Id., Ex. 1 at 14-15. In December 1990, the plaintiff was promoted by the BOP to a grade level GS-7 position as a social science research technician and in this position he primarily gathered computer data and performed initial analysis for research analysts. Id. at 15; Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 8 at 4.*fn5 In 1992, the plaintiff became a computer specialist. Def.'s Mot., Ex. 2 at 3. He held this position until 1995, and while in that job was eventually promoted to the GS-12 grade level. Id. As a computer specialist, the plaintiff worked with both the Key Indicators Strategic Support System ("Key Indicators System"),*fn6 and the Executive Staff Management Indicators System ("ESMI System").*fn7 Id. However, the plaintiff's main responsibilities were "basic descriptive statistical work" and "software programming" in the Key Indicators System. Def.'s Mot., Ex. 1 at 16-18. The plaintiff explained that both the ESMI and the Key Indicators Systems are independent systems, and that use of the ESMI System by executive staff is mandatory, while use of the Key Indicators System by BOP personnel is optional. Def.'s Mot., Ex. 1 at 20-22. During his tenure as a computer specialist at the BOP, the plaintiff obtained his undergraduate and master's degrees from the University of the District of Columbia, earning an undergraduate degree in urban studies in 1992 and a graduate degree in urban policy in 1994. Id. at 12.

  In 1995, the plaintiff was promoted to a social science research analyst position, and in 1998 he was promoted to the GS-13 grade level. Id., Ex. 2 at 2. In this position, the plaintiff oversaw the operation of the ESMI System, which "basically" required him to "assign[] the ESMI work that [research analysts] needed to do[,] . . . set deadlines for that work[,] . . . [and] review[] and provide[] them feedback" on their work. Id., Ex. 1 at 19. Although he assigned work to the three research analysts who worked on the ESMI System, the plaintiff was formally the supervisor of only one of them. Id. at 19-20. While in the social science research analyst position the plaintiff also worked on the Key Indicators System, which required him to "collect and analyze sensitive staff internal affairs data monthly" and "conduct social research" that responded "to either [BOP's] operational needs or an original research problem of [the plaintiff's] interest." Id., Ex. 2 at 2. In 1997 the plaintiff published his first journal article in the Journal of Black Studies. Id. at 7.

  In 1998, the plaintiff applied for a promotion to the GS-13 level position of social science research analyst. Def.'s Mot., Ex. 1 at 45. However, he was not selected for the position. Id. Rather, Jennifer Batchelder, who was also a social science research analyst at the BOP, was selected for the position. Id.; Def.'s Reply, Ex. 15 at 4. After his non-selection the plaintiff purportedly complained to his supervisor, William Saylor, who was the Deputy Chief of the Office of Research and Evaluation.*fn8 Def.'s Mot, Ex. 1 at 46-47; see also id., Ex. 5 at 1. However, the plaintiff did not file a formal complaint to express his concerns. Def.'s Mot., Ex. 1 at 46. The plaintiff allegedly told Saylor that he believed Batchelder was less qualified for the position because, among other things, she reported to him on the ESMI System. Id., Ex. 1 at 45-46. Moreover, the plaintiff allegedly expressed to Saylor his belief that his non-selection was racially motivated, evidenced by the fact that all employees at the promotion level and at all other high-level positions at the BOP were held by "only . . . white staff. . . ." Id. at 46; see also Compl. ¶ 38. The plaintiff claims that Saylor informed him that he would talk to Gerald Gaes, Director of Research at the BOP, about the plaintiff's concerns. Def.'s Mot., Ex. 1 at 46; id., Ex. 7 at 25. Saylor contends that he told the plaintiff that there would be a second GS-13 position available soon, id., Ex. 5 at 29, and later that year the plaintiff was promoted to a GS-13 social science research analyst position, id., Ex. 2 at 1. The plaintiff wrote a second journal article while in this new position, which was co-authored by his supervisor, Chris Innes. Id., Ex. 2 at 7. This article was published in 2000 in the Journal of Offender Rehabilitation. Id. The plaintiff also notes that while in his various positions at the BOP, he received "outstanding" job performance ratings from his supervisors for his work in 1999, 2000, and 2001.*fn9 Compl. ¶¶ 34, 35, 36, 37.

  In March 2001, the plaintiff applied for another promotion to a grade level GS-14 social science research analyst position. Def.'s Mot., Ex. 1 at 28. He received a rating of 98 out of a possible 100 qualification points for the GS-14 position. Id. However, the plaintiff was not selected for the position, and he believes that the position was never filled. Id. at 28-29. Another vacancy for a GS-14 social science research analyst position was posted in August 2001. Def.'s Mot., Ex. 3 at 1. The plaintiff claims that Saylor informed him that Ph.D. skills were necessary to qualify for the position, and that Gaes told him "being enrolled in a Ph.D program should increase one's promotion potential." Compl. ¶¶ 19, 20. So when the plaintiff applied for the August 2001 vacancy, he was enrolled in a part-time criminology and criminal justice Ph.D. program at the University of Maryland. Id. ¶ 21. However, he had not yet taken any courses. Def.'s Mot., Ex. 1 at 44-45. Batchelder, rather than the plaintiff, was also selected for this position, and this non-selection of the plaintiff forms the basis for this action.*fn10

  2. Jennifer Batchelder's Professional Background

  Batchelder, a Caucasian female, Compl. ¶ 12, earned an undergraduate degree in psychology from Gettysburg College in 1986 and a master's degree in public policy from George Washington University in 1991. Def.'s Reply, Ex. 15 at 5-6. She has consistently received outstanding job performance ratings as a BOP employee. Id. at 1, 6.

  Batchelder began her employment with the BOP as a social science research analyst contractor in 1986. Id. at 5. In this position she primarily collected and entered data into database forms for analysis. Id. She became a grade level GS-9 social science research analyst at the BOP in 1989, and she was eventually promoted to the GS-12 grade level while in this position. Id. at 4. During that time she began working on the Key Indicators and the ESMI Systems and, although she primarily did computer programming, she also participated in a number of projects and made a number of presentations. Id. at 4-5. Batchelder also was involved in an analysis project during this period, which resulted in the writing of an unpublished paper about the "perceptions of staff regarding their opportunity for advancement in the [BOP]" that was presented at an Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences conference.*fn11 Id. at 5. As previously stated, Batchelder was promoted to the GS-13 social science research analyst position in 1998. Id. at 3. There, she worked as a project administrator for the Key Indicators System. Id. at 3. In this position, she was responsible for "coordinating monthly updates and enhancements with approximately eight people, conducting data analyses and assisting staff in the use of the system." Id. She was also the supervisor for three employees on the Key ...


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